Friday, August 14, 2009

Freedom in Christ

The United States champions the cause of freedom around the world but are we really free?

Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. If the son has set you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:32,36 True freedom can only be found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is centered upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Romans chapter 6, the Apostle Paul shows us how important the bodily resurrection of Jesus is for us to live in obedience to God. Look at verses 1-5: Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. "United with" means we are intertwined with Him. When Jesus died He took on our sin, His death became our death. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, He baptized us into His body with His Holy Spirit, identified us with His death on the cross, and then identified us with His resurrected life.

It also means that we are now living in a brand new realm than we’ve ever been in before. When we died with Christ, we are raised with Him to walk in newness of life. The power of God to resurrect Christ from the dead is the same power that now lives in us. He gives us the power to say no to sin and to say yes unto God. We are in Christ and Christ is now in us! How could we go back and think about living like we used to live? We’ve been completely transformed!

In verses 6-11 we read, "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus."

When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, all of our sin was placed upon Him. When He rose from the dead, His relationship to that sin was totally changed. He didn't have a relationship with sin like we do but He took our sin upon Himself. After the cross, He was in a brand new relationship with the Father. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father ever to make intercession for us. In the same way, when we died with Him, everything that we used to be was nailed to the cross with Him, and the same power that brought Jesus back to life is the same power that put new life into us! We are brand new creatures.

Verses 12-15 say, "Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!"

This passage shows the power we now have of choosing against sin and choosing to obey Christ. Sin is no longer a lifestyle to us. Sin is a choice once we have experienced the resurrection power of God. We can do what God tells us to do because He has given us His resurrection power.

Look at verse 16: "Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living." Choosing to obey Christ is the testimony of every believer. God has taken us out of the domain of darkness. He has placed us into His kingdom. We’re different now! The Holy Spirit lives in us to give us the power to live differently.

Verse 17 says, "Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you." What teaching? -- the teaching that Jesus is Lord of our lives. That truth is indelibly imprinted upon every believer at your conversion. Your whole testimony rests on the fact that your choice is to obey the Lord Jesus."

Read verse 18: "Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living." Whatever you choose to serve becomes your master, and there are going to be consequences to that choice. In verse 19 we see the result that obedience to Christ brings the believer. "Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy." The holiness that man tries to come up with is so superficial. Holiness is not following a list of rules and regulations. It’s learning to walk in the resurrected power of Christ, being obedient to God’s word from a heart of gratitude not out of compulsion.

Who is your master? The resurrected power of Jesus has given us the power to choose. Jesus is our Lord. Why would we choose to participate in something that is going to drag us down the path of death and destruction when we have the power within us to pursue a life of holiness and righteousness? Sin is like a cancer. It aggressively reproduces itself until the whole person is destroyed. You don’t want to go back and serve sin again. The Spirit of God lives in you now, and the resurrection power of God is there to cause you to live differently.

Consider verse 20: "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right." Paul is pointing them back and showing them how bad it used to be. Back then when you were living in sin, there was no accountability in your life. You lived any old way you wanted to live." He reminds them how fruitless those days were. Verse 21 says, "And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom." Paul is saying, "Your life was worthless when you were living as a slave of unrighteousness? You were ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated and discouraged. So, at some point we have to learn to make the right choices and then we will reap the consequences of right choices.

Here is the good news in verses 22 and 23, "But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

The power of sin has been broken in the life of a Christian. Choose to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to God and the result will be a life of holiness. Let's honor God with our lives. When you walk in the Spirit you won't carry out the deeds of the flesh!

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